Christian Kravagna

  • Lois Weinberger

    When Lois Weinberger planted weeds around a railroad track near the Kulturbahnhof at Documenta X, it was widely noticed. In fact, the piece attracted more attention than many of the other works in the show. But why did common grasses, ferns, and thistles seem so intriguing when presented in a cultural context? Was it because large exhibitions can be tiring, even boring, for professionals as well as for laymen (perhaps for different reasons), and that a little nature is felt to be liberating? Especially in a clean, solid town like Kassel—where the train station is surrounded by a revitalized

  • Zoe Leonard

    A tree barren of leaves, ten fairly small photographs, generic motifs, a lot of empty space, and a door opening onto the outside through which the sound of birds and traffic could be heard. What Zoe Leonard disseminated in her recent show consisted largely of “atmosphere.”

    Many here, some in the local media, expressed disappointment with Leonard’s exhibition, because it did not fulfill what some expect from “political” artists. Why, then, did the show strike me as important? For exactly the same reason: it did not fulfill expectations, and thus offered an opportunity for reflection. There is a

  • Valie Export

    A record spins on a turntable, with the sound switched off; the artist, meanwhile, appears on a video monitor, listening on headphones and singing along. It is impossible to capture the rich and multifaceted aspects of a thirty-year career in a few words, but Valie Export’s title for this work, “Reproduction of the Reproduction qua Immediacy,” goes a long way toward stating her central concerns. Completed in 1973 but conceived in 1967, this installation could have inspired the title of a recent retrospective of her work: “Split: Reality.”

    Whereas “immediacy” generally designates the opposite of

  • Eija-Liisa Ahtila

    Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s three-part video projection If 6 was 9, 1995, deals with young girls’ conversations about sex. The combination of video, youth, and sexual content in work that reflects on the quotidian is hardly unusual, and those who remain skeptical about the art world’s current tendency to privilege the personal won’t necessarily be swept away. Ahtila’s films, however, distinguish themselves by dealing with issues of identity and self-discovery without making any claim to “authenticity.”

    If 6 was 9 involves a fracturing of representation that derives from a disjunction between sound and

  • Elke Krystufek

    The day after the opening of Elke Krystufek’s recent show, there were more people than I had even seen in this space. Why was there so much fuss about an artist who is only twenty-seven? Krystufek is certainly the most successful Austrian artist of the decade, but better-known artists have shown their work at the Secession without inspiring so much interest. There must have been other reasons for the furor—perhaps the advance reports on an Austrian radio station, for example, that continually repeated the catchphrase, “masturbation performance.” In fact, Krystufek became known to a wider audience

  • Gottfried Bechtold

    During the ’60s and ’70s, Gottfried Bechtold’s career was difficult for two reasons: he lived in the provinces, near the German and Swiss border; and he pursued an aesthetic largely unrecognized in his own country. Along with Peter Weibel, Valie Export, and Richard Kriesche, Bechtold belonged to a small group of artists who rejected Austrian Expressionism in all its manifestations, from painting to Actionism, adopting instead a conceptual stance with a more international orientation. Although his work appeared in the 1972 Documenta, he had no solo shows outside Austria since 1966, an injustice

  • Maria Hahnenkamp

    Given the image on the invitation for Maria Hahnenkamp’s recent show, one could easily have been disappointed by the work in the gallery. The card depicted a young blonde woman, heavily made-up, her lips slightly parted and her gaze focused on something mysterious and inviting outside the picture frame. In short, this was a provocative image of an “attractive” and “erotic” woman, reminiscent of media and advertising images. Inside the gallery one’s first impression was radically different: white walls, white frames, white pictures, almost suggesting that one was about to enter into a formal

  • Franz West

    Some have doubted the appropriateness of granting Franz West a museum retrospective at this point in his career, as he only began to achieve wide recognition during the mid ’80s. Skepticism might also stem from the fact that the fascination of his earlier shows lay in their focus on particular situations, something hardly possible in a large-scale exhibition. By showing the long prehistory of West’s work, however, this exhibition made it clear that he adopted his characteristic stance very early on—by about the mid ’70s—while it also demonstrated that his origins can be traced to the particular

  • Hirsch Perlman

    Hirsch Perlman’s first solo exhibition in Austria contained only three works, each consisting of a video accompanied by a framed black and white film still and a brief descriptive text. Unlike some of Perlman’s earlier pieces, which dealt with architecture, the police, and legal systems, it was extremely difficult to establish a frame of reference for this work.

    On one level the relationship between the text and the images was very clear, as the work seemed at first to involve a faithful translation of the visual into the linguistic, or vice versa. The text that appeared in Shoving (all works

  • André Cadere

    André Cadere, like Michael Asher, Marcel Broodthaers, and Daniel Buren, ranks among those artists who began to work in the ’70s and whose critical practice—and its relation to art world institutions—has become increasingly relevant over the years. The fact that Cadere never attained the degree of celebrity these other artists did is perhaps due not only to his untimely death in 1978, but also to the intimate link between his work and his own presence when it was exhibited.

    While many associate Cadere’s work almost exclusively with his “Barre de Bois Rond” (“round bar of wood”)—a pole made of

  • Peter Kogler

    Since the last Documenta in Kassel, where his ant wallpaper was installed in the entrance hall of the Friedericianum, many people have formed a fixed idea of Peter Kogler’s work, tending to see in it a variation on certain themes rather than their further development. He has often used computer-generated ant, brain, or tube motifs as basic modules to form paths that fork mazelike across the walls, creating an even allover structure.

    Depending on which interpretation one subscribes to, one may prefer to speak either of coherence or dearth of ideas in Kogler’s work. His Secession show, in any case,

  • David Hammons

    David Hammons’ African-American version of the “Stars and Stripes”—a green, black, and red flag—billowed over the portal of the Salzburger Kunstverein, lending the building the air of an embassy. In a place like Salzburg, where the culture-intoxicated bourgeoisie comes to see great opera and theater, an exhibition offering work by a black artist gives rise to expectations of utter otherness,which will hopefully manifest itself in the form of charmingly “different” cultural artifacts.

    But Hammons, a bit of a killjoy, defeated such expectations. Only one picture in this show, in fact, made explicit